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Notes for

Daniel Chapter Five

1. Jeremiah 27:6-7

And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant; and the beasts of the field have I given him also to serve him. And all nations shall serve him, and his son, and his son's son, until the very time of his land come: and then many nations and great kings shall serve themselves of him.

This was about 538BC, almost 32 years after the previous chapter and Belshazzar, son of Nabonidus, is Nebuchadnezzar’s grandson.

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2. Jeremiah 27:21-22 For the restoration of the temple

Yes, thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels that remain in the house of the LORD [the temple], and in the house of the king of Judah and of Jerusalem; they [also] shall be carried to Babylon, and there shall they be until the day that I visit them, says the LORD; then will I bring them [all] up, and restore them to this place.

Jeremiah 51:23-32; 54-58 It was an internal revolt (See Ezekiel 28:18).

Behold, I am against you, O destroying mountain [Babylon] , says the LORD, which destroys all the earth: and I will stretch out My hand upon you, and roll you down from the rocks, and will make you a burnt mountain. And they shall not take of you a stone for a corner, nor a stone for foundations; but you shall be desolate for ever, says the LORD. Set you up a standard [a rallying point] in the land, blow the trumpet among the nations, prepare the nations against her, call together against her the kingdoms of Ararat, Minni, and Ashchenaz; appoint a captain against her; cause the horses to come up as the rough caterpillars.

Prepare against her the nations with the kings of the Medes, the captains thereof, and all the rulers thereof, and all the land of his dominion. And the land shall tremble and sorrow: for every purpose of the LORD shall be performed against Babylon, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without an inhabitant. The mighty men of Babylon have forborne to fight, they have remained in their holds: their might has failed; they became as women: they have burned her dwelling places; her bars are broken.

One post shall run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to show the king of Babylon that his city is taken at one end, and that the passages [of the river] are stopped, and the reeds they have burned with fire, and the men of war are frightened....

A sound of a cry comes from Babylon, and great destruction from the land of the Chaldeans: because the LORD has spoiled Babylon, and destroyed out of her the great voice. When her waves do roar like great waters, a noise of their voice is uttered: because the spoiler is come upon her, even upon Babylon, and her mighty men are taken, every one of their bows is broken: for the LORD God of recompenses shall surely requite [take recompense]. And I will make drunk her princes, and her wise men, her captains, and her rulers, and her mighty men: and they shall sleep a perpetual sleep, and not wake, says the King, whose name is the LORD of hosts.

Thus says the LORD of hosts; The broad walls of Babylon shall be utterly broken, and her high gates shall be burned with fire; and the people shall labour in vain, and the folk in the fire, and they shall be weary.

The city was under siege by the Medes and Persians at the time. In fact, this was its last night! They were being very "religious" for this was a special festival to Baal the god of force. It was a "voluntary" madness.

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3. Isaiah 21:2-4 The reason for the writing

A grievous vision is declared to me; the treacherous dealer deals treacherously, and the spoiler spoils [Babylon had ceased to be God's caretaker of the world]. Go up, O Elam: besiege, O Media; all the sighing thereof have I made to cease. Therefore are my loins filled with pain: pangs have taken hold upon me, as the pangs of a woman that travails [in childbirth]. I was bowed down at the hearing of it; I was dismayed at the seeing of it. My heart panted, fearfulness frightened me: the night of my pleasure has He turned into fear to me.

When the presence of God makes men fear, they cannot hide the intensity of their terror. This written plea was the work of a divine "watcher", the Holy Spirit.

Nahum 2:8-10 The end is similar to the destruction of Nineveh some time before this

But Nineveh is of old like a pool of water: yet they shall flee away. Stand, stand, shall they cry; but none shall look back. Take you the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold: for there is none end of the store and glory out of all the pleasant furniture. She is empty, and void, and waste: and the heart melts, and the knees smite together, and much pain is in all loins, and the faces of them all gather blackness.

Consider John 16:7-11 The purpose of the Spirit's presence

Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He is come, He will [first] reprove the world of sin, and [second] of righteousness, and [then] of judgment [the reason for the need of righteousness].

Of sin, because they believe not on Me;

of righteousness, because I go to My Father, and you see Me no more;

of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.

Romans 1:18-22 There is no excuse for anyone to miss out - it must be rejected

For the wrath [or sorrowful warning] of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; because that which may be known of God is manifest in [or to] them; for God has showed it to them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.

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4. He would be ‘third ruler" because Belshazzar’s father was still alive at the time living in another town.

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5. In vain the king tried to read the burning letters. But here was a secret he could not fathom, a power he could neither understand nor gainsay. In despair he turned to the wise men of his realm for help. His wild cry rang out in the assembly, calling upon the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and the soothsayers to read the writing. "Whosoever shall read this writing," he promised, "and show me the interpretation thereof, shall be clothed with scarlet, and have a chain of gold about his neck, and shall be the third ruler in the kingdom." But of no avail was his appeal to his trusted advisers, with offers of rich awards. Heavenly wisdom cannot be bought or sold. "All the king's wise men . . . could not read the writing, nor make known to the king the interpretation thereof." They were no more able to read the mysterious characters than had been the wise men of a former generation to interpret the dreams of Nebuchadnezzar.

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5a. Daniel 2:20-21 How God removes and sets up kings - by allowing them to have what they want

Daniel answered and said, Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever: for wisdom and might are His: and He changes the times and the seasons: He removes kings, and sets up kings: He gives wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding....

Here we are shown that God holds even heathen kings subject to his will. He takes idolaters, and deals with them according to their evil ways and doings.

The same Watcher who came to Daniel was an uninvited guest at Belshazzar's sacrilegious feast. This monarch had everything to flatter his pride and indulge his passions. He was a great king, presiding over what was then the greatest kingdom on earth. His provinces were cultivated by captives, and his capital was enriched by the spoil of nations. He held the life and property of his subjects in his hand. To those who ministered to his pride and vanity, he was indulgent; they were his chosen favorites; but if at any moment they crossed his will, he was at once a cruel tyrant. His anger blazed forth against them without restraint.

Admitted to a share in kingly authority at fifteen years of age, Belshazzar gloried in his power, and lifted up his heart against the God of heaven. He despised the One who is above all rulers, the General of all the armies of heaven. "Belshazzar the king made a great feast to a thousand of his lords, and drank wine before the thousand." On this occasion there was music and dancing and wine-drinking. The profane orgies of royal mirth were attended by men of genius and education. Decorated women with their enchantments, were among the revelers.

Exalted by wine and blinded by delusion, the king himself took the lead in the riotous blasphemy. Reason no longer controlled him; his lower impulses and passions were in the ascendancy. His kingdom was strong and apparently invincible, and he would show that he thought nothing too sacred for his hands to handle and profane. To show his contempt for sacred things, he desecrated the holy vessels taken from the temple of the Lord at its destruction.

A Watcher, who was unrecognized, but whose presence was a power of condemnation, looked on this scene of profanation. Soon the unseen and uninvited Guest made his presence felt. At the moment when the sacrilegious revelry was at its height, a bloodless hand came forth, and wrote words of doom on the wall of the banqueting hall. Burning words followed the movements of the hand. "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin," was written in letters of flame. Few were the characters traced by that hand on the wall facing the king, but they showed that the power of God was there.

Belshazzar was afraid. His conscience was awakened. The fear and suspicion that always follow the course of the guilty seized him. When God makes men fear, they can not hide the intensity of their terror. Alarm seized the great men of the kingdom. Their blasphemous disrespect of sacred things was changed in a moment. A frantic terror overcame all self-control.

Belshazzar had been given many opportunities for knowing and doing the will of God. He had seen his grandfather Nebuchadnezzar banished from the society of men. He had seen the intellect in which the proud monarch gloried taken away by the One who gave it. He had seen the king driven from his kingdom, and made the companion of the beasts of the field. But Belshazzar's love of amusement and self-glorification effaced the lessons he should never have forgotten; and he committed sins similar to those that brought signal judgments on Nebuchadnezzar. He wasted the opportunities graciously granted him, neglecting to use the opportunities within his reach for becoming acquainted with truth. "What must I do to be saved?" was a question that the great but foolish king passed by indifferently.

This is the danger of heedless, reckless men and women to-day. The hand of God will awaken the sinner as it did Belshazzar, but with many it will be too late to repent.

The ruler of Babylon had riches and honor, and in his haughty self-indulgence he had lifted himself up against the God of heaven and earth. He had trusted in his own arm, not supposing that any would dare to say, "Why do you do this?" But as the mysterious hand traced letters on the wall of his palace, Belshazzar was awed and silenced. In a moment he was completely shorn of his strength, and humbled as a child. He realized that he was at the mercy of One greater than himself. He had been making sport of sacred things. Now his conscience was awakened. He realized that he had had the privilege of knowing and doing the will of God. The history of his grandfather stood out as vividly before him as the writing on the wall.

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6. Then the queen mother (she was probably Belshazzar’s mother for she came in without being summoned), remembered Daniel, who, over half a century before, had made known to King Nebuchadnezzar the dream of the great image and its interpretation. Chapter 2:48.

Cp Esther 4:10-11

Again Esther spoke to Hatach, and gave him [a] commandment to Mordecai; "All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whoever, whether man or woman, shall come to the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days."

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7. Jeremiah 51:9 Jesus says

We would have healed Babylon, but she is not healed: forsake her, and let us go every one into his own country: for her judgment reaches to heaven, and is lifted up even to the skies.

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8. Acts 8:18-22 Heavenly wisdom cannot be bought or sold

And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles' hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost.

But Peter said to him, Your money perish with you, because you have thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. You [can] have neither part nor lot in this matter: for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you.

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9. Deuteronomy 10:12 Obedience brings protection

And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear [respect] the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul...

Micah 6:8

He has showed you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?

The prophet first reminded Belshazzar of matters with which he was familiar, but which had not taught him the lesson of humility that might have saved him. He spoke of Nebuchadnezzar's sin and fall, and of the Lord's dealings with him--the dominion and glory bestowed upon him, the divine judgment for his pride, and his subsequent acknowledgment of the power and mercy of the God of Israel; and then in bold and emphatic words he rebuked Belshazzar for his great wickedness. He held the king's sin up before him, showing him the lessons he might have learned but did not. Belshazzar had not read aright the experience of his grandfather, nor heeded the warning of events so significant to himself. The opportunity of knowing and obeying the true God had been given him, but had not been taken to heart, and he was about to reap the consequence of his rebellion.

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10. Hebrews 2:1-3 It is by neglect that we lose salvation

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by them that heard him...

Galatians 6:7-8 "As you sow, so shall you reap".

Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap. For he that sows to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that sows to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

In that last night of mad folly, Belshazzar and his lords had filled up the measure of their guilt and the guilt of the Chaldean kingdom. No longer could God's restraining hand ward off the impending evil. Through many providences, God had sought to teach them reverence for His law. "We would have healed Babylon," He declared of those whose judgment was now reaching to heaven, "but she is not healed." Jeremiah 51:9. Because of the strange perversity of the human heart, God had at last found it necessary to pass the irrevocable sentence. Belshazzar was to fall, and his kingdom was to pass into other hands.

Judgment day had arrived! No longer could God’s restraining hand ward off the impending evil.

Jeremiah 50:22-25

A sound of battle is in the land, and of great destruction. How is the hammer of the whole earth cut asunder and broken! how is Babylon become a desolation among the nations! I have laid a snare for you, and you are also taken, O Babylon, and you were not aware: you are found, and also caught, because you have striven against the LORD. The LORD has opened His armoury, and has brought forth the weapons of His indignation: for this is the work of the Lord GOD of hosts in the land of the Chaldeans.

In the laws of God in nature, effect follows cause with unerring certainty. The reaping will testify as to what the sowing has been. The slothful worker is condemned by his work for the harvest bears witness against him. So in spiritual things: the faithfulness of every worker is measured by the results of his work. The character of his work, whether diligent or slothful, is revealed by the harvest. It is thus that his destiny for eternity is decided.

Every seed sown produces a harvest of its kind. So it is in human life. We all need to sow the seeds of compassion, sympathy, and love; for we shall reap what we sow. Every characteristic of selfishness, self-love, self-esteem, every act of self-indulgence, will bring forth a like harvest. He who lives for self is sowing to the flesh, and of the flesh he will reap corruption.

God destroys no one as men destroy.

Everyone who is destroyed will have destroyed him or herself.

Everyone who stifles the admonitions of conscience is sowing the seeds of unbelief, and these will produce a sure harvest. By rejecting the first warning from God, Pharaoh of old sowed the seeds of obstinacy, and he reaped obstinacy. God did not compel him to disbelieve. The seed of unbelief which he sowed produced a harvest of its kind. Thus his resistance continued, until he looked upon his devastated land, upon the cold, dead form of his first-born, and the first-born of all in his house and of all the families in his kingdom, until the waters of the sea closed over his horses and his chariots and his men of war. His history is a fearful illustration of the truth of the words that "whatever a man sows, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7. Did men but realize this, they would be careful what seed they sow.

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11. Although the four words are plain Hebrew, their message was not. It needed divine wisdom to decipher them.

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12. 2 Corinthians 5:10-11 God tries to help us before the Day comes to us

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he has done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord [as seen by sinners], we [try to] persuade men....

Isaiah 13:17-19 Like Sodom and Gomorrah

Behold, I will stir up the Medes against them, which shall not regard silver; and as for gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children. And Babylon, the glory of kingdoms, the beauty of the Chaldees' excellency, shall be as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.

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13. Jeremiah 51:30-31 There was hardly any resistance to the invaders

The mighty men of Babylon have forborne to fight, they have remained in their holds: their might has failed; they became as women: they have burned her dwelling places; her bars are broken. One post shall run to meet another, and one messenger to meet another, to show the king of Babylon that his city is taken at one end...

Isaiah 44:27-28; 45:1 This had been written about 200 years before

[I am the living God] that says to the deep [the river Euphrates which surrounded Babylon], Be dry, and I will dry up your rivers. [Cyrus' army dug channels and diverted the river into a nearby dry swamp]. That says of Cyrus, He is My shepherd, and shall perform all My pleasure: even saying to Jerusalem, You shall be built; and to the temple, Your foundation shall be laid. Thus says the LORD to His anointed [or chosen servant], to Cyrus, whose right hand I have held, to subdue nations before him....

Ezra 1:1-4.

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia [536BC], that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying, Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven has given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and He has charged me to build Him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Who is there among you of all His people? His God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (He is the [only] God,) which is in Jerusalem. And whoever remains in any place where he sojourns [he who chooses not to go], let the men of his place [their fellow Jews] help him [the returnee] with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.

Isaiah 45:1-6

... And I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him [Cyrus] the two leaved gates [which were in the walls which ran alongside the river through the city centre]; and the gates shall not be shut [because the guards were drunk]; I will go before you, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron.

And I will give you the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that you may know that I, the LORD, which call you by your name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob My servant's sake, and Israel My elect, I have even called you by your name: I have surnamed you, though you have not known Me.

I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside Me: I girded [or protected] you, though you have not known Me: that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west [all over the world], that there is none beside Me. I am the LORD, and there is no one else.

Nabonidus, Belshazzar’s father, was captured later and exiled. Cyrus the Persian general was the nephew [by marriage] of Darius the Mede who became the king of Babylon.

The history of these nations should speak to us today. To every nation and individual God has assigned a place in His great plan. Today men and nations are being tested by the straight edge which is in the hand of Him who makes no mistakes. We are by our own choice deciding our destiny, and God is overruling all for the accomplishment of His purposes, without using any force! It is because He does not want any to suffer the fate which awaits rejecters of His mercy that He appears to be slow in bringing it to completion.

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